Patterson v. Burge, 03 C 4433.

Decision Date05 August 2004
Docket NumberNo. 03 C 4433.,03 C 4433.
Citation328 F.Supp.2d 878
PartiesAaron PATTERSON, Plaintiff, v. Former Chicago Police Lt. Jon BURGE # 338; former CPD Sgt. John Byrne # 1453; former CPD Detectives James Pienta # 10063; William Marley # 9886; Raymond Madigan # 1471; William Pedersen # 8553; Daniel McWeeny # 14367; and Joseph Danzyl # 12568; Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Peter Troy, former Assistant Cook County State's Attorney William Lacy; Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine; Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard; former Chicago Police Superintendent Leroy Martin; former OPS Director Gayle Shines; former counsel to the Superintendent Thomas Needham; the City of Chicago; Cook County, Illinois and its Cook County State's Attorneys' Office, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois

Michael Edward Deutsch, G. Flint Taylor, Jr., Joey L. Mogul, People's Law Office, Standish E. Willis, Law Office of Standish E. Willis, Chicago, IL, Demitrus Evans, Evanston, IL, for Plaintiff.

Richard Thomas Sikes, Jr., Oran Fresno Whiting, Michael Paul Kornak, Terrence J. Sheahan, Jennifer Louise Koger, Richard Bruce Levy, Freeborn & Peters, Patrick T. Driscoll, Jr., Louis R. Hegeman, Paul Anthony Castiglione, Cook County State's Attorney, Patricia Campbell Bobb, Patricia C. Bobb & Associates, William J. Holloway, Steven M. Puiszis, Joseph R. Curcio, Ltd., Terrence Michael Burns, Harry N. Arger, Paul A. Michalik, Daniel Matthew Noland, Dykema, Gossett, Rooks, Pitts PLLC, Martin Peter Greene, Eileen Marie Letts, Kevin Thomas Lee, Terry Miller, Greene & Letts, Chicago, IL, for Defendants.


GOTTSCHALL, District Judge.

After being convicted for the 1986 murders of Rafaela and Vincent Sanchez and spending 13 years on death row, plaintiff Aaron Patterson was pardoned by Illinois Governor George Ryan on January 10, 2003. Patterson filed this civil action in June of 2003, asserting that defendants, individually and in conspiracy, violated his rights under the United States Constitution and Illinois state law when they knowingly filed false charges and framed him for the Sanchez murders, tortured and beat him at Chicago Police Department's Area 2 headquarters, fabricated his "confession" and falsified inculpatory evidence, coerced witnesses to testify against him, gave perjured testimony, published defamatory statements regarding his guilt, and obstructed justice and suppressed exculpatory evidence throughout his suppression hearing, trial, and post-conviction proceedings. Now before the court are defendants' motions to dismiss Patterson's complaint and all of the fourteen claims contained therein.


The following facts are taken from Patterson's first amended complaint and are regarded as true for the purposes of this motion. See Thompson v. Illinois Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir.2002).

On April 19, 1986, Chicago Police Department officers discovered the dead bodies of Rafaela and Vincent Sanchez in their apartment at 8849 South Burley. Officers and defendants Lt. Jon Burge, Sgt. John Byrne, Detectives James Pienta, William Marley, Daniel McWeeny, Joseph Danzyl (collectively, "Area 2 defendants"), and other Area 2 detectives were assigned to investigate the Sanchez murders. On April 21, Danzl allegedly coerced and intimidated 16 year-old Marva Hall, whose uncle was a suspect in the murders, into falsely implicating Patterson. On April 22, Burge and another Area 2 detective took a different suspect, Michael Arbuckle, into custody at Area 2 headquarters. Burge allegedly told Arbuckle that they "really wanted to get Aaron Patterson" and wanted Arbuckle to say that Patterson was involved in the murders. When Arbuckle refused to implicate Patterson and asked for his lawyer, Burge threatened him with electrocution and lethal injection and told him that they would get Arbuckle to "cooperate one way or another." Still, Arbuckle denied his and Patterson's involvement.

On or about April 23, McWeeny, Byrne and other Area 2 detectives on the case were informed by several persons that Willie Washington and his brother killed Rafael and Vincent Sanchez. Nevertheless, for the next week, Byrne, McWeeny, and other Area 2 detectives searched unsuccessfully for Patterson. On April 30, Patterson was arrested on an outstanding warrant by Chicago Police Department officers from the Fourth District. Defendants Pienta, Marley, and Pedersen were called to transport Patterson from the Fourth District police station to Area 2. During the ride, Pienta allegedly told Patterson that if he had arrested him, he would have killed him.

At Area 2 Patterson was placed in an interview room, handcuffed to the wall, and questioned by Area 2 detectives about the Sanchez murders for about an hour. Patterson denied any involvement. He was then taken to 11th and State before being returned to the interview room at Area 2. After brief questioning, Pienta told Patterson that he was "tired of this bullshit," left the room, and came back with a grey typewriter cover. When Patterson refused to implicate himself in the murders, the Area 2 defendants, including Pienta, Marley, and Pedersen, handcuffed him behind his back, turned out the lights, and repeatedly beat him in the chest and suffocated him by holding the typewriter cover over his face and ears for at least a minute. Pienta continued to urge Patterson to "cooperate," and when he refused, the Area 2 defendants again turned out the lights and suffocated Patterson with the plastic cover. The second time, the "bagging" and beating lasted for over two minutes. Patterson found the abuse unbearable and told the detectives he would "say anything you say" if they would stop the suffocation and beating.

After Patterson agreed to cooperate, the Area 2 defendants left the room to get a state's attorney from the felony review division to take his statement. While alone in the room, Patterson used a paper clip to scratch into the interview room bench that he was "suffocated with plastic" and that his statement to the police was false. Defendant Burge returned with an Assistant State's Attorney ("ASA") who said that Burge told him Patterson wanted to make a statement. After Burge left the room at Patterson's request, Patterson told the ASA that he had nothing to say. The ASA left and told Burge that Patterson refused to confess. Burge then returned to the room, told Patterson "you're fucking up," placed his handgun on the table in front of Patterson, and said "we told you if you don't do what we tell you to, you're going to get something worse than before — it will have been a snap compared to what you will get." He also told Patterson that if he revealed the torture, "it's your word against ours and who are they going to believe, you or us." Burge then told Patterson that they could do anything they wanted to him.

Next, defendant Peter Troy, an ASA with the State's Attorney's Office ("SAO"), entered the interview room with Area 2 defendant Madigan. Initially, Patterson agreed to make a statement in exchange for phone privileges, but he refused to sign the statement Troy had written out after the Area 2 defendants terminated his calls. In an attempt to make Patterson sign the statement, Troy and Madigan physically attacked Patterson. McWeeny entered the room at this time, professing not to be involved in the prior beatings and suffocation, and urged Patterson to cooperate because the other defendants "could do something serious to him if he didn't." As a result of this coercion and under threat of continued torture, Patterson said he would agree with whatever the Area 2 defendants and Troy said had happened.

Around the same time, defendant Pienta arrested Eric Caine, Patterson's co-defendant in the Sanchez murder prosecution. Caine was interrogated and beaten and told that if he did not make a statement he would get the same treatment as Patterson. Caine initially gave a statement, but when he tried to repudiate it Madigan hit Caine with his open hand over his ear and cheekbone, causing a loud pop and rupturing his ear drum. Caine screamed in pain; he later gave and signed a court-reported statement prepared by the Area 2 defendants which falsely implicated Patterson in the murders.

The Area 2 defendants, together with SAO defendants Troy and William Lacy, allegedly fabricated oral admissions and reduced these "admissions" to false reports implicating Patterson and Caine in the Sanchez murders. Defendants communicated these false reports to the prosecuting attorneys, who used them at Patterson's suppression hearing and at trial. Defendants also testified falsely about the fabricated admissions and the torture and abuse which produced them throughout Patterson's prosecution. No physical evidence linking Patterson to the murders was ever discovered, though a bloody fingerprint that was not Patterson's was found at the scene and not introduced at trial. Patterson was convicted for the Sanchez murders on the basis of his false confession and the testimony of Marva Hall and defendants. Patterson was sentenced to death, and after his conviction was affirmed on appeal, spent over 13 years incarcerated on death row until his pardon in January of 2003.

After his conviction but before Patterson filed his motion for a new trial, the Chicago Police Department's Office of Professional Standards ("OPS") completed an investigation into allegations that suspects held in custody at Area 2 had been tortured by the Area 2 defendants and others. In November of 1990 the OPS issued a secret report which was forwarded to then superintendent of the Chicago Police Department Leroy Martin. In the report OPS found that from 1973 to 1985 there was a practice of systematic abuse of suspects at Area 2 and that certain Area 2 command personnel, including defendants...

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